Since his promotion to Ferrari in 2019, Charles Leclerc has been an integral part of the Maranello-based team. In a recent interview with The Race, he shed light on his journey, the current hurdles he faces with the SF-23 F1 car, and his unwavering belief in the Ferrari project.
Since joining Ferrari, Leclerc has showcased his talent by securing 21 pole positions, an impressive feat by any measure. However, in terms of race victories, he has only clinched five Grand Prix wins during this period. This stark contrast has been a source of frustration for both Leclerc and the Scuderia fans, especially considering his tremendous qualifying prowess.
To add to the complexity of the situation, this season has been particularly challenging for Leclerc. While his teammate, Carlos Sainz, managed to secure a Grand Prix victory, Leclerc has been unable to do so. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are the only other drivers who have tasted victory this season, leaving Leclerc longing for that top step on the podium.
In the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari currently sits in third place, a considerable 338 points behind the dominant Red Bull Racing Team. This sizable gap has fueled speculation about Leclerc’s future with Ferrari once his contract expires in 2024. Will he continue his journey with the iconic team, or will he explore other opportunities?
Speaking to The Race, Leclerc expressed his deep affinity for the Italian marque, emphasizing the emotional connection he has developed during his time with Ferrari. His passion for the team is evident, and it’s clear that he values the opportunity to drive for one of the most storied names in Formula 1.
However, it’s not all smooth sailing for Leclerc and his teammate, Carlos Sainz. Both drivers have faced significant challenges with the wind-sensitive SF-23 throughout the season. The unpredictable behavior of the car in various conditions has undoubtedly tested their skills and adaptability.
“It’s always been the red car for me, since I was younger.
“But this is not the whole reason why I am so attached to Ferrari. I am also super grateful for everything they’ve done for me.
“I’m also aware that Nicolas Todt [manager] helped me from 2011, but without Ferrari, I wouldn’t have made it to Formula 1. And they’ve always been there supporting me when I needed it.
“Ferrari is just special. Whenever you get to Ferrari, and you go around the factory and you speak to the people, you can feel something that is super special, you can understand how much passion and how much it means to them.
“When you go to the production, and you see how much it means for them to see the driver. It’s something very strong.”
But even in the face of these challenges, Leclerc’s faith in Ferrari remains unshaken. In fact, his belief in the project has only grown stronger since the arrival of new team principal, Fredric Vasseur, at the end of the previous year. The appointment of Vasseur has injected fresh energy and direction into the team, offering hope for a brighter future.
“We straight away knew what our weaknesses were.
“We were, at least at the beginning of the year, super wind-sensitive, which is something I guess is quite difficult to understand for fans that are not properly into Formula 1.
“There were some off-examples like Baku, where the wind was quite high, but we were super strong [Leclerc converted pole position into a podium], which was difficult to understand.
“But then as a general trend, we were struggling quite a lot. Even in one weekend, we could see a lot of very good sessions and also very difficult sessions.
“That was very, very difficult for us because also as a driver, it’s very difficult to set up the car in a particular way, because you will get one car one session and a very different one the one after.”
As Charles Leclerc continues to persevere through the highs and lows of Formula 1, his commitment to Ferrari and its ongoing project remains resolute. With the backing of the team and his unwavering belief, Leclerc’s journey with the Scuderia promises to be one filled with determination, challenges, and the pursuit of excellence.
“I view it in a way that whenever I won’t believe in the project anymore, that probably will be the time when I’ll have to go away.
“Because it’s in these kinds of situations that you don’t get the best out of yourself, that you don’t help the team as much as it needs to be helped.
“But this is definitely not the case at the moment. I believe in the project as much as I’ve ever believed in the project before. Especially since Fred arrived.
“So for now it’s clear. Then it’s also clear that I want to win. But I believe in this project and I’m sure we are working in the right direction.”